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Old December 13, 2012, 03:55 AM
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Default Dedicated Vs Onboard (when using optical out)

I currently use a Sound Blaster Recon 3D PCIe, its optical out port connected to an Astro Gaming MixAmp for my sounds needs. I used to use the onboard optical out of my (now dead) Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 mobo. Since that mobo died it's replacement did not have Dolby Digital Live support over its optical port (hence the Sound Blaster card).

Now theoretically if my Gigabyte board was still alive would I still see the same major improvement from going from onboard to the dedicated card when using the optical out port as I would from swiching to the dedicated cards analog jacks? If so why?

I understand why when using the analog outputs, but not when using the optical out port, since I don't think your using the cards DAC or op-amps since the sound is still in digital form when leaving the sound card.

PS. I still plan on using dedicated sound cards regardless of the answer, I've just always wondered if the dedicated card gives the same quality boost when using the optical port as it does to the analog ports.
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Old December 13, 2012, 04:32 AM
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As far as i've read there is no difference in sound quality if you use digial out from a dedicated sound card or motherboard.
P.S: If you want to use dedicated sound card use the analog ports to fully utilize the power of the sound card. Actually you can benchmark both. try with optical out then analog, hear for yourself

Last edited by Rockfella; December 13, 2012 at 04:41 AM.
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Old December 13, 2012, 06:04 AM
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To my knowledge there is no noticeable or actual sound difference when using a sound card vs onboard when it comes to optical out as all the audio processing/decoding/conversion to analog is done by the device you are connecting the optical cable/signal to.
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Old December 13, 2012, 09:50 AM
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Rollergold you should really use the analog ports of your sound card for best sound quality.
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Old December 13, 2012, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockfella View Post
Rollergold you should really use the analog ports of your sound card for best sound quality.
If all you finish listen to music and records sure.
But otherwise digital is the way
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Old December 13, 2012, 12:49 PM
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digital out (whether it be optical or coaxial) is unconverted signal, so it will make zero sound quality difference from onboard audio or a dedicated card.

The only benefit to the dedicated sound card with digital out is access to a likely better software equalizer if you even use it.
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Old December 13, 2012, 10:31 PM
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Ok thanks for the answers. The reason why I use a dedicated sound card by the way, is because my replacement mobo (the ASUS P6X58-E WS) does not have Dolby Digital Live support which is a requirement for my current audio system to function properly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockfella View Post
Rollergold you should really use the analog ports of your sound card for best sound quality.
Fair enough and very true mind you, but I don't get the gaming oriented features my USB MixAmp has (The one dial game/chat balancing, the universal compatibility, the Dolby Headphone 5.1 processing and the MP3 mix in function) on analog connections so for me the slight loss in sound quality is worth it for all the extra features.
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Old December 14, 2012, 05:40 AM
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FWIW, it is not possible to send uncompressed PCM surround audio through digital spdif or coax.
Surround over SPDIF will always be compressed, so yes technically analog will give you better quality sound.

Whether or not you'll notice it depends on your setup and how picky your ears are.
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Old December 14, 2012, 01:29 PM
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I had both on my last HTPC (SPDIF onboard... and SPDIF via Asus Xonar sound card)

Call me crazy.. but when i toggled back and fourth I noticed a wider range of sounds for music/movies when i connected my Denon amp to the sound card versus the mobo. Placebo perhaps?
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Old May 8, 2014, 01:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grinder View Post
I had both on my last HTPC (SPDIF onboard... and SPDIF via Asus Xonar sound card)

Call me crazy.. but when i toggled back and fourth I noticed a wider range of sounds for music/movies when i connected my Denon amp to the sound card versus the mobo. Placebo perhaps?
Theoretically impossible for what I've read but anything is possible, so enjoy what you hear even placebo
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